Va. Mayor's Little Known Link to Jamaican Bobsledding - NBC4 Washington
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Va. Mayor's Little Known Link to Jamaican Bobsledding

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    A Northern Virginia mayor is sharing his Olympic memories of being part of a team that helped the Jamaican bobsledders get to the 1988 Olympics. He showed his photos and described his Olympics moments with News 4's Kristin Wright. (Published Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014)

    About forty-five minutes southwest of Washington, D.C. sits Warrenton, Va., a small town with a very big connection to a famous bobsled team.

    George Fitch, one of the men behind the Jamaican bobsled team that inspired Disney's "Cool Runnings," has served as mayor of the northern Virginia town for the last 16 years.

    Portrayed by John Candy in the 1993 movie, Fitch's life before the creation of the bobsled team varied greatly from what was seen on-screen.

    "I was personally offended by the film because I'm not a disgraced Olympic bobsledder who's a drunk, who's spending the rest of my life in some pool hall. But that's Hollywood," Fitch told ESPN.

    In actuality, Fitch was an American businessman living in Jamaica, who after watching a local pushcart derby felt Jamaica's top sprinters would be a perfect match for bobsledding. After the sport's dangerous nature failed to win the country's Summer Olympians over, Fitch, along with William Maloney, held an open tryout for the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, Alberta.

    The team's inspiring run went on to be adapted into the Disney film.

    In 1998, Fitch became mayor of Warrenton, Va., where he's currently serving his last term.

    But his team's legacy continues to inspire, as the popularity of the 1988 team and the more widely-known movie make evident today. Since qualifying for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, supporters have helped make the team's trek to Sochi possible.

    Funding issues were the first hurdle the team faced, but they quickly raised the $178,000 needed to make the trip before telling fans and friends to stop donating. The delayed arrival of their equipment also hindered the team's first practice in the Russian resort town. The team's equipment eventually arrived, and they were able to practice on the second day of "unofficial" training. The Jamaicans are competing in the Winter Olympics for the first time since 2002.

    Perhaps this year's run will inspire a sequel. "Cool Runnings 2," anyone?

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.